01.18.10

Disaster Capitalism and Microsoft

Posted in GNU/Linux, HP, Microsoft, Windows at 9:58 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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Summary: How Microsoft makes money out of natural disasters; Microsoft takes Perl down with bot shakeups

KATRINA is well behind us, but several Microsoft Web sites used to speak about the dumping of Microsoft software (at zero cost, initially) that got many victimised businesses and local operations ‘stuck’ with Microsoft. They became victims twice. When disaster strikes, it is often seen as an opportunity for corporate takeover (there is a lot of budgeted money for reconstruction). In Naomi Klein’s “shock doctrine”, she explains how Katrina was exploited by corporations to transform their business success rather than transform the ruined land.

We have discussed this in the IRC channel for the past couple of days [1, 2] because of the Haiti earthquake. Separately, one of our readers mailed us the following last night:

Microsoft is puffing up some kind of disaster capitalism in Haiti. Eweek uncritically announced some $1.2 million of donations and a call to employees for aid. While it is nice of them to encourage others to help, $1.2 million is a piddling amount for such a large company and Eweek might have asked if the “donations” were more of the usual, $1,500 worth of CDs and temporary licensing keys with a MSRP of $1.2 million. It is a shame that details were not provided to reduce well earned cynicism.

Having seen Microsoft in action for Katrina and Rita, I can say that they are a hindrance rather than help. Red Cross offices suffered under Microsoft’s notoriously poor networking, which kept them from being able to act as efficiently as they should. Citizens were forced to use IE to sign up for relief because government websites were poorly designed, so free software was banished from evacuation centers and people fell back to pen and paper. To top it all off, Microsoft used the opportunity to expand their grip on public education and small business with state funded, strings attached deals. I can only imagine what they will do in Haiti, where there’s less to milk when all is done.

Speaking of making money out of chaos, Heise finally writes about Microsoft's denial of service attack on Perl, which gives Perl’s allegations legitimacy. The H says:

The Perl CPAN Testers have been suffering issues accessing their sites, databases and mirrors. According to a posting on the CPAN Testers’ blog, the CPAN Testers’ server has been being aggressively scanned by “20-30 bots every few seconds” in what they call “a dedicated denial of service attack”; these bots “completely ignore the rules specified in robots.txt”.

Microsoft’s own servers also act as drivers of DDoS attacks (when hijacked) and as sources of referrer SPAM (as a matter of design) [1, 2]. It’s probably worst when DNS goes down due to Microsoft.

As PC Pro (UK) puts it, Microsoft is now liaising with HP in hope of fighting GNU/Linux.

Microsoft and HP tie $250m knot

[...]

From Microsoft’s point of view, the deal will help ward off the threat of Linux-based solutions in businesses, while HP can count a near-guaranteed revenue stream from Microsoft-centric customers.

Secret/exclusionary deals are related to the exploitation of natural disaster, but they are not quite the same. Both are means of imposing the use of inferior software through loopholes, euphemistic bribes, and back doors.

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10 Comments

  1. The Mad Hatter said,

    January 18, 2010 at 10:48 am

    Gravatar

    Hum, looks like Dell just got backstabbed.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    That must be because Dell turned away from “disaster capitalism” and moved over to “Ubuntu ‘communism’”. [sarcasm /]

  2. Needs Sunlight said,

    January 18, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    Gravatar

    Profiteering and corporate welfare.

  3. Needs Sunlight said,

    January 18, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    Gravatar

    Naomi missed the Microsoft influence throughout society. When computer technology was mentioned, it seemed like she took it for granted that Microsoft == Computers and Computers == Microsoft.

    If you look at the crisis state that the incursion of MS Exchange causes wherever it takes the place of a mail server, you can see a slow-burn disaster no smaller than most of the ones she uses as an example. By using Microsoft, you lose about a fifth to a quarter of your productive working time but with no reduction in the expected work results. Add to that the stress from uncontrollable, unpredictible, non-functional technology and add to that the Microsoft Marketeer Mantra of ‘Blame the User’ and serotonin levels shoot to dangerous levels. Eventually staff endup with a fish gulping for air kind of look and are quite malleable as needed for the ‘shock doctrine’

    Robotron 2084 Reply:

    I dare say she didn’t miss it, rather she doesn’t have an irrational hatred of Microsoft or any other company, so she felt no need to exaggerate. As ludicrous as your fictitious example was, I was more alarmed by your reference to “serotonin levels”. Elevated serotonin levels would result in extreme feelings of happiness, relaxation, love and empathy. I believe you were looking for cortisol, often referred to as the “stress hormone”.

    your_friend Reply:

    There is no “irrational hatred” of Microsoft, there is only awareness of Microsoft’s crimes. Klein seems to be ignorant of these, but not entirely. For example, here she castigates Microsoft especially for a fraud many others are committing:

    While the enormous profits being made in Iraq are strictly private, it turns out that the entire risk is being shouldered by the public. … The reconstruction of Iraq has emerged as a vast protectionist racket, a neo-con New Deal that transfers limitless public funds — in contracts, loans and insurance-to private firms, and even gets rid of the foreign competition to boot, under the guise of “national security.” Ironically, these firms are being handed this corporate welfare so they can take full advantage of CPA-imposed laws that systematically strip Iraqi industry of all its protections,

    Microsoft is singled out for it’s usual business of dumping Windows and toasting the general corruption. Here Microsoft is singled out for abusive employee handling:

    a fifty-something software programmer … Barbara Judd worked at Microsoft, but her department was staffed exclusively by temps, or “perma-temps” as they called themselves. She had no job security, no stock options, not even, at the time, health insurance.

    These are legitimate complaints but Klein seems to be unaware of Microsoft’s roll in derailing education, the high cost of Microsoft domination to all other industry and many other problems created by the company’s greed. The terms “OLPC” “ISO” and “ODF” don’t make it into her site. “Linux” is mentioned once in passing in year 2000 as something that might make people rich if they wanted that. Klein’s technical ignorance blinds her to Microsoft’s importance in many areas of interest to her, specifically patents, education and censorship. Klein is worried about “privatization of the state” but concentrates on it’s intellectual leaders, like Milton Freidman, rather than dirty little file clerks like Bill Gates. That’s a shame because people like Gates are creators of instrumental pieces of exploitation like “intellectual property”. Monsanto’s use of patents and EULAs to prevent research on GMOs has caught her attention. Monsanto’s abuse is built on 20 years of practice and refinement of Microsoft pioneered concepts.

  4. Robotron 2084 said,

    January 18, 2010 at 11:49 pm

    Gravatar

    It’s pretty sleazy to criticize anyone making a donation, whether they are a company or a private individual. I guess that’s why the author isn’t mentioned. At least he stopped short of boasting about how large his own donation was.

    Blaming Microsoft for any problems at the Red Cross or any other organization involved in disaster relief is just as pitiful as the garbage spewed out recently by extremists like Pat Robertson. He blamed Haiti’s disaster on a “pact with the devil”. It’s bad enough that people suffer human tragedy, but it’s made worse when those on the outside, like Roy and his supporters, are only interested in playing the blame game rather than lifting a finger to offer real help.

    your_friend Reply:

    The bit about Microsoft at the Red Cross looks like a first hand observation. What’s pathetic about reporting that?

    verofakto Reply:

    You two are going to have to work harder at faking the source of all this wonderful material. I mean, seriously.

    Have you thought about running your prose through Google translate before Roy posts it? I recommend English->Japanese->Swahili->English for maximum structural obfuscation.

    The Mad Hatter Reply:

    Ah, you’re still hanging around. You need to update my website on your list.

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